On the occasion of NATO 60th anniversary and Latvia’s 5th anniversary of membership in NATO Latvian Transatlantic organisation (LATO) with the support of NATO, the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on March 30, 2009 launched a broad NATO information campaign in the schools of Latvia.
During the last six weeks almost 50 schools have been visited, where lecturers from LATO, the Ministry of Defence of Latvia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Latvian National Armed Forces, embassies of the U.S., the Netherlands and Canada, as well as from the University of Latvia and Soros Foundation Latvia were explaining to children and their teachers the idea of NATO, its values and goals, activities and international operations.
This week also the President of Latvia – H.E. Mr. Valdis Zatlers and First Lady Lilita Zatlere participated in the campaign and visited Madlienas secondary school, in the district of Ogre, central Latvia. During his speech president of Latvia stressed the importance of being safe and secure, taking into account lessons of Latvia’s history, and the role of NATO in securing peace in Europe and in particular – independent state of Latvia. He also explained why it is so crucial for the members of the Alliance to work closely together in Afghanistan and why Latvia’s involvement in international operations is needed.
Students were very attentive listeners and after President’s speech challenged him with numerous questions. As teachers later admitted, they haven’t seen for a long time such an attention and activity of the audience . President made his public address in informal and friendly manner, thus catching the interest and trust of the students and building up an interactive communication.
After President’s speech a special short documentary on Latvia’s 5 years experience in NATO was demonstrated and a representative of the Latvian National Armed Forces (NAF) explained what has changed in the military sector after joining NATO. In the conclusion a small quiz was organised and the most active students received symbolic NATO gifts and souvenirs.